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Shark Cartilage

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What other names is Shark Cartilage known by?

AE-941, Cartilage de Requin, Cartilage de Requin du Pacifique, Cartilago de Tiburon, Collagène Marin, Extrait de Cartilage de Requin, Liquide de Cartilage Marin, Marine Collagen, Marine Liquid Cartilage, MSI-1256F, Neovastat, Pacific Shark Cartilage, Poudre de Cartilage de Requin, Shark Cartilage Powder, Shark Cartilage Extract, Sphyrna lewini, Squalus acanthias.

What is Shark Cartilage?

Shark cartilage (tough elastic tissue that provides support, much as bone does) used for medicine comes primarily from sharks caught in the Pacific Ocean. Several types of extracts are made from shark cartilage including squalamine lactate, AE-941, and U-995.

Shark cartilage is most famously used for cancer, including a type of cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma, that is more common in people with HIV infection. Shark cartilage is also used for arthritis, psoriasis, wound healing, damage to the retina of the eye due to diabetes, and inflammation of the intestine (enteritis).

Some people apply shark cartilage directly to the skin for arthritis and psoriasis.

Likely Ineffective for...

  • Cancer. Most research shows that taking shark cartilage by mouth does not benefit people with advanced, previously treated cancers of the breast, colon, lung, prostate, and brain or advanced, previously treated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Studies of shark cartilage in people with less advanced cancer have not been published.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Age-related vision loss (age-related macular-degeneration). Early research suggests that taking a specific shark cartilage extract (AE-941, Neovastat) for 24 weeks might improve or stabilize vision in people with age-related vision loss.
  • Cancerous tumor called Kaposi sarcoma. There are reports that shark cartilage might decrease tumors called Kaposi sarcoma.
  • Osteoarthritis. When applied to the skin, products containing shark cartilage in combination with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, and camphor reportedly reduce arthritis symptoms. However, any symptom relief is most likely due to the effect of camphor and not the other ingredients. Additionally, there is no research showing that shark cartilage is absorbed through the skin.
  • Psoriasis. Developing research suggests that a specific shark cartilage extract (AE-941, Neovastat) might improve appearance and decrease itching of plaque psoriasis when taken by mouth or applied to the skin.
  • Kidney cancer. Taking a specific shark cartilage extract (AE-941, Neovastat) by mouth seems to increase survival in patients with advanced kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma). This product has FDA "Orphan Drug status" for renal cell carcinoma. The Orphan Drug law gives drug makers special incentives to study drugs for rare conditions.
  • Arthritis.
  • Eye complications.
  • Wound healing.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate shark cartilage for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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